Founded in 2014, Hacksmiths, a student-run tech society at Goldsmiths, University of London, runs annual “hackathons” – invention marathons where attendees of varying skills and backgrounds brainstorm and build machines over the course of three days.
The Guardian offered an in-depth rundown of Hacksmiths’ most recent hackathon, themed around sex technology.
In an effort to steer away from uniformly heterosexist, hegemonic sexual pursuits, the Guardian reported that this hackathon ran in tandem with identity politics and social equality. In his opening remarks, organizer Kevin Lewis encouraged participants to be mindful of three themes — intimacy, accessibility and personalization – and to explore solutions to problems the mainstream has failed to recognize. This included solutions for marginalized groups, as well as people with varying physical abilities. It also included dreaming up toys that just don’t exist yet.
After a full first day of talks and discussion, the attendees divided themselves into teams and set to work. On the final day, the teams presented their work to the crowd.
There were some interesting observations and inventions.
Florence Schechter, a science YouTuber, reported being interested in making a toy for women with vaginismus. Vaginismus causes the vaginal walls to involuntarily contract, preventing penetration.
Kate Devlin, a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, specializes in sex robots. She showed the Roxxxy TrueCompanion, a more conventional sex doll, which she then juxtaposed with other sex robots users must engage in a certain period of foreplay with before they are granted consent.
Someone with carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI (repetitive strain injury) made a gyroscopic penis-tugging device. There was a vibrator controlled by the sound of moans for those unable to operate buttons. At the end of the event, only one of the inventions was penis-shaped.
As reported by the Guardian, Hacksmiths’ hackathon addressed many complex issues, including Is hacking a sex toy sexual assault?, Who owns sex data? and Do lookalike sex dolls infringe on people’s image rights?
The idea of ingenious and inspired sex toy hackers looking to enageg complex questions and meet diverse needs, as well as needs previously left unfulfilled, is amazing. This doesn’t make existing sex toys any less amazing though.
Image via Jeff Dutton.